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VOA Director Deplores Ukraine's Seizure of Equipment from Private Radio Station

The director of the Voice of America has deplored the Ukrainian government's seizure of broadcasting equipment from Radio Kontinent, a private station that carried U.S.-financed broadcasts.

Director David Jackson said the Voice of America has a reputation for balanced, reliable newscasts and that silencing it was not in Ukraine's best interest. He said the VOA joins other members of the Association for International Broadcasting in calling on Ukrainian authorities to respect their citizens' rights to free access to media.

Thursday, the U.S. State Department expressed serious concern over the shutting down of Radio Kontinent, which carried programs from VOA, U.S.-financed Radio Liberty and the BBC. The station was taken off the air Wednesday, days after it started broadcasting Radio Liberty programs.

The State Department has also endorsed a call by the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament's media committee to investigate the death of Radio Yuta director Yuriy Chechyk.

Police in the Ukrainian city of Poltava say Mr. Chechyk was killed Wednesday when his car collided head-on with another vehicle. Authorities have ruled the death an accident, but associates of Mr. Chechyk said they suspected foul play.

The Associated Press says Mr. Chechyk was en route to the Ukrainian capital to meet with officials of Radio Liberty's Ukrainian service when the accident occurred. He had been considering having his station carry Radio Liberty programs.